Home Movies (III)

Here we are with another round-up of films - ones I’ve seen at home, rather than at the pictures. It may not surprise you to learn that these are not from the USA or UK.

The Adventurers (俠盜聯盟) (2017)

Andy Lau (劉德華) in an Andy Lau film about Andy Lau being Andy Lau - only this time, the charming git who is much too suave for his own good (ngaw, stop it Andy - oh go on then, carry on) is a thief who has morals and a looong history of getting away with everything - until that one time he didn’t. Jean Reno, Eric Tsang (曾志偉), Shu Qi (舒淇) and a host of back-ups make this film twisty, turny, action-packed and fun to watch. Worth watching for a good alternative to The (original) Pink Panther meets Mission: Impossible (1996), and for the bridge scene at the end.

Verdict: 8.5/10; could have been less obvious about some things, but I liked the fact that some key moments were much more realistic than Hollywood’s saccharine view of everything.

Buddy Cops (刑警兄弟) (2016)

Pure Hong Kong-style sarcasm, fun, and social commentary as Bosco Wong (黃宗澤) plays the hot-headed, bordering-on-arsehole copper Fei who gets into trouble one too many times and is transferred to the useless department, full of coppers the HK Police can’t sack. There he is soul-shreddingly irritated by Johnny, played by comedian and TVB go-to actor ‘King’ Kong Lee (金剛). When their single parents end up together, they not only have to try to find a way not to kill each other as new brothers, but also survive “typical ‘Kong’ girlfriends” and the Big Bad, who appears to be smuggling drugs buried in coffee. Full of bawdy jokes that would make Shakespeare proud, it’s also interesting to note how local HK media sees the role of ‘girlfriends’ and how things work between the battle of the sexes. I caught myself laughing out loud a few times; evidence perhaps that you don’t need a big budget to entertain - as the two main actors who have long careers with TV company TVB would already know.

Verdict: 7.5/10; It felt like it kind of lost its way in the middle, but then quickly got back to the overall plot when it realised the time.

Running Out of Time (暗戰) (2000)

What can you say about a classic that haunts you from your bookcase? It’s like an old friend, watching me as I walk past every day, noticing the times I look at the DVD case and then remember I have Things To Do. It doesn’t get upset that I don’t have time to rewatch it, it just lets me get on with stuff, knowing that eventually I will get back to it.

And I always do. There’s something sublimely awesome about this film, something quietly and subtly one of the best films I’ve ever seen. Andy Lau (yes, him again) is a jewel thief with a very short life expectancy - or is he? Sean Lau Ching-Wan (劉青雲) is just copper too good at his job, so when debonair master-criminal Andy Lau decides to use him for The Greater Good, the game is on. I won’t tell you what The Greater Good actually is, as that would definitely spoil the entire film. Suffice to say, it’s probably not what you think - and when it is exactly what you think, it makes you happy to be sad. Yes, it’s one of those films.

Verdict: 9.5/10. Enough said.

Needing You… (孤男寡女) (2000)

Not a New Year film but pretty much almost there, this comedy with romance in it (not to be confused with a romantic comedy) is a complete giggle from start to finish. Andy Lau (leave me alone - the man makes 6 films a year on average, ok?) is allegedly a ‘womaniser’ and ‘slimy creep’, and also the manager of the sales floor in an office. Enter Sammi Cheng (鄭秀文), a misunderstood woman who gets transferred in from another department. She comes with emotional baggage like a boyfriend who treats like furniture but cheats on her. Manager Andy decides enough is enough and steps in to help her ditch him. A complicated dating game ensues, with him being pursed by an ex and Sammi being pursued by the richest brat you’ve ever met (he doesn’t seem that way, but wait for it). Throw in a subplot about office politics (some of the verbal smackdowns he lays on the office gossipers are incredibly on point) and a cameo from… Andy Lau (you need to see it to understand) and you have a pretty funny escapade that leaves you smiling.

Verdict: 8/10. Seeing Sammi get her own back on the boyfriend and Andy kick the shit out of his car in frustration never gets old - and for the bloopers they left in because, hey, why not?

Cat and Mouse (老鼠愛上貓) (2003)

Most definitely a New Year film, this has all the hallmarks of a classic rip-roaring piss take; Hong Kong actors playing ‘serious’ period drama characters, a very real, very snowy Beijing film set, witty Cantonese one-liners, gurning and others doing complete scenes with their faces being the dialogue - what’s not to laugh at? Cecilia Cheung (張栢芝) is a dude in charge of a local gang complete with comfort women and henchmen, who the incredibly smart security officer of the royal court, Andy Lau, doesn’t even realise is in disguise. Andy gets bored of his prefecture being crime-free (even his sword protests not being used any more) and goes on holiday to find trouble. He lands right in it when he uncovers a plot by other courts to have his judge assassinated - and him too. Chapman To is brilliantly funny in this as Cheung’s inventive sidekick, and the banter that goes on between him and the other ‘henchmen’ is immeasurably hilarious. Honourable mention goes to Lei Bing Bing for playing perhaps the only straight face in the whole farce. Cecilia Cheung though get to flex some comedy muscles and excels.

Verdict: 9/10. Simple harmless fun from start to finish.

Firestorm (風暴) (2013)

Wow. How many buildings, cars, people, or innocent plant pots can you blow up over the course of 2 hours? Stick with this film to find out. Seriously, it’s a wonder Michael Bay didn’t call and ask for his explosives budget back.

Andy Lau Is a copper who’s been after The Big Bad, a gangster, for a while. After a poor sap with no way out ends up in jail, Andy becomes god-father to his daughter and looks after the autistic child with the usual patented Andy Perfection until her father is released. Meanwhile The Big Bad is ramping up his attacks and Andy simply Won’t Stand For It - but every time they try to arrest him, he slips their grasp or is released on a technicality. However, Andy is determined to stand firm and get him the right way. Or is he? When people stoop so low as to go after innocent (and uncomprehending) children, Andy decides perhaps it’s time to cheat just a little. But what do you do when it goes wrong? Things blow up, apparently - a lot of things, and often. But I have to say, it’s all in a day’s work and it doesn’t get boring at all.

Verdict: 8.5/10 - some awesomely planned action scenes, some moral ambiguity and an interesting ending. Bring on the blu ray.

Wesley’s Mysterious Files (衛斯理藍血人) (2002)

Oh. My. Life. You want a Syfy Original Movie with people forced to speak foreign languages (badly), poor CGI / FX and gaping plot holes? Then this is the film for you. I don’t know how many times I laughed, but I probably wasn’t supposed to. In a so-bad-it’s-good way, I did enjoy this film. After all, how many blue-blooded aliens get to kill off the director of the film when he’s doing his cameo?

Verdict: 5.5/10; sorry - making people struggle on in a foreign language is not my idea of a good time. They could have just spoken their own and made up some universal translator stolen from the blue-blooded aliens to get around it. *shrugs*

Peace Breaker (破局) (2017)

Probably the best kept secret of 2017, you won’t find this film listed on Aaron Kwok (郭富城)’s filmography or in fact anyone else’s. Which is a shame, because this remake of the Korean smash hit A Hard Day (走到盡頭) from 2014 is at times very black comedy, abruptly heart-breaking mood whiplash, and most of the time a gripping thriller. I say ‘gripping’ because I spent half of the film shouting advice at the TV (which Aaron ignored - rude) and the other half squeezing the life out of a cushion through sheer frustration. I can’t remember how many times I yelled ‘you’ve got X minutes left to find a way to fuck him over!’. Worth a watch for the coffin scene alone, anyone who’s ever started out a shitty day that got worse as the hours dragged on will probably enjoy this film. It almost slipped into parody once or twice, but then again, this was filmed out in Malaysia to get around the rigid Chinese censorship, so anything goes when you’re not forced to make everything about serving the Party well and being a good dog.

The trailer on YouTube is probably the only marketing this film is going to get - a great shame if you want both a giggle and an action-packed fun night in. And I have to say - a very good ending. Make sure you watch the credits to see the deleted scenes.

Verdict: 8/10 - it’s just so good to see Aaron Kwok in a new movie, but this stands up as one of the better ones.

That’s it for now - going to have to come back here soon and update with Cineworld adventures.


Going to the Pictures (V)

It’s pretty much November. In about 6 weeks I’ll have had my Cineworld card for a whole year. Apparently I get a replacement card in black, more discounts, and all the sales jazz. However, it’s becoming apparent that getting this card in the first place was one of the best decisions I’ve made in a long time.

But that’s a post for another day. What we want here is reviews, right? Plus a record of what I’ve seen and how I felt about it. So on with the show:

Blade Runner 2049 (28th September 2017)

Warning: this review contains SPOILERS.

Skip to the verdict if you don’t want to know.

I was really looking forward to this. Being a fan of the original (how many times have I used the ‘too bad she won’t live - but then again, who does?’ line on people?), and having rewatched it just the week before, I had hopes that we were in for something of the same. Well, SPOILERS, but yeah, it was pretty much the same - insomuch as Harrison Ford gets the girl and all the replicants die. Same-same. And it took 2.5 hours to get there. It felt like the film was 6 weeks long - and for the most part I felt it totally missed the point on why the film was there and went after other plot threads. For example, I thought the idea of the original, and hopefully this sequel (so glad it wasn’t a reboot) was that we were supposed to be exploring the difference between humans and replicants - what makes humans better, or superior? Why do some people believe that slavery of ‘lesser’ species is ok? Do replicants count as a species, and is that because they now come with implanted emotions to make them easier to handle? Do replicants just follow their programming or do they have limited free will, the same as humans? Does Ryan Gosling’s character, K, have a digital girlfriend in his pocket because he wants love, or because he thinks he should want love because it’s what a human might do and he thinks he should be emulating them? And why does he regard humans as something to emulate? Because he was programmed to, or because he likes any of them? And the girlfriend in the pocket - is she only following her programming doing what she was created for, or does she genuinely feel anything for him, a replicant? Is such a thing possible? The idea that replicants have somehow become the slaves of the human race, made by a completely unnecessary bordering-on-cameo by Jared Leto (who I swear is only hired these days to be weird on set and method-act his way through a few lines that would have been better-used coming from another character that we cared about), was disturbing - as anything is when the word ‘slave’ is used. But then the film veered off into a murder-mystery-cum-resistance flick while only paying lip-service (or camera-service) to the bigger themes, and the point of the movie. And it took its time. I mean, when we got to the point where Harrison Ford shared his feelings for cheese in what amounted to a conversation with absolutely no plot-steering or in fact use in the film, I sat there thinking ‘that’s all very nice, Deckard, but can we have a movie now?’. I could have watched 3 episodes of Star Trek (any Star Trek) in that time and had more metaphysical questions or head-scratchers posed to make me wonder. It was beautifully shot, excellently put together; the CGI department, the wardrobe, make-up, physical effects and all other people involved behind the scenes should all get Oscars. I’m not joking. It was atmospheric and wonderfully executed. Only the plot and the floundering, swimming-through-treacle timing of it all let it down for me. That, and the blatant disregard for why we’re here in the first place.

Verdict: 5/10. And those 5 are for the effects and the effort everyone put into it.

The Death of Stalin (12th October 2017)

I cannot remember the last time I laughed so much in a movie theatre (after things like Kingsman movies). This reconstruction of the power struggle that must have occurred after the actual death of Joseph Stalin in 1953 was hilarious, insightful, and downright slapstick minus the pratfalls. A mixture of English, American and Russian actors with complete disregard of accents or acting styles brought so many belly-laughs from the audience that there were moments when we missed the next line, so loud was the enjoyment. Michael Palin, Steve Buscemi, Jason Isaacs (HILARIOUS), Jeffrey Tambor, Paddy Considine - effortless fun and a brilliant way to bring a version of history to life. And if the English actors play the pawns, the Americans the back-stabbing politicians and the Russians ‘the people’, then who’s to read into that? It was so much fun I cannot wait for the blu ray.

Verdict: 9.5/10; would recommend to anyone who enjoys comedy, history, a fun night in/out, wordplay, witty dialogue, or just plain unashamed entertainment.

The Lego Ninjago Movie (19th October 2017)

A kids’ film, yes. However, it also had quote a few references to keep older people happy. Not as much fun as The Lego Batman Movie, this was however enough to keep up giggling all the way through. Jackie Chan is excellent as Master Wu, and while some of the film was predictable, we do have to remember the target audience.

Verdict: 7.5/10; would recommend as a Sunday afternoon movie or to anyone under 9.

Thor: Ragnarok (24th October 2017)

Fun, bright, colourful, cheerful, hopeful, and a sense of humour a mile wide. It feels completely disposable, except that the ramifications of what went down in the end will, I suspect, have a big impact on what happens next in the Marvel cinematic universe. The only thing that bugged me was that, at times, it felt like Thor was a little out of character; a few too many Earth-isms, maybe, a few too many quips and very Earthlike idioms. However, Jeff Goldblum was Jeff Goldblum awesome as always, and the unexpected characters were a delight. A perfect antidote to more serious (and more soul-destroyingly meaningful and dreary, distopian bollocks.

Verdict: 9/10. How much fun can you have at Marvel’s expense?

Geostorm (26th October 2017)

Full disclosure: we saw the trailer for this before another film and went ‘that looks so shit! We have to watch it!. It truly appears to be a Syfy Original Movie in the vein of Piranhaconda, Two-Headed Shark Attack, or Zombeavers. Unfortunately, it has nothing of the self-deprecating tongue-in-cheek humour, and doesn’t seem to realise it’s not supposed to be a real movie. I would only recommend this film if there’s a drinking game to go with it, centred around manly man having manly male emotions (such as Emo Tears of Unshed Man Pain), wasting time with manly emotional dialogue, and saving the ‘golden retriever’ of the movie when he was clearly slated to die. The only saving grace(s) was the Secret Service agent who was almost comically badass, and the bafflingly always-in-the-right-place-at-the-right-time women in charge of the International Space Station. Finally, will someone explain to me why people keep taking projectile weapons such as GUNS onto a pressurised space station?

Verdict: 4/10. I think that’s a new low.

That’ll do me a for a bit. We have more to come, believe me.


On Star Trek Discovery, and all things new

Warning! Danger, Will Robinson!
Here be SPOILERS for Star Trek Discovery up to series 1 episode 5!

At time of writing, we’re up to episode 5. I have to say, it’s living up to the hype - that it’s going places no other Trek show has been.

How? Two things:

First of all, it’s not following a ship (or a station) - it’s following a character. Just as the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy trilogy (of five) tells the story of a book by showing you its adventures as they concern humans, Star Trek Discovery is telling us the story of Michael Burnham as she causes conflict by interacting with ships, their captains, and their enemies.

Two: it doesn’t say ‘here are your bridge crew characters - now make stories about them’. It says ‘here’s a story and we’ll involve people are we need them’. For this reason, there’s no ‘episode as a vehicle for this character’ - apart from Michael, who, lest we forget, is who it’s all about.

I’m happy with these choices. I’m ecstatic that it’s breaking from tradition and going forward. When I first heard that CBS/Paramount were determined to keep going backwards in terms of the year it was set, I was pretty pissed off, to be honest. Star Trek is about moving forward, and that means you don’t write yourself into the past, a past before Kirk joins Starfleet, and box yourself in with what you can and can’t have because Kirk didn’t have it.

(As an aside - who else is waiting for the literal mirror-verse version of Stamets to bring about the end of spore-drive tech? When it’s discovered that it causes what I think is replication of the human spore-host as a mirror-version, Starfleet will have to abandon it - hence why Kirk doesn't have it. I’m so excited for this!)

However, this show has already been more progressive than its predecessors, and I’m happy about that. I’m also happy that these humans we have on this show are not the fully-formed, fully-balanced people of the 22nd or 23rd century. They’re in 2256 - 2 years before the events of the ‘The Cage’ - 11 years before Kirk takes command of the Enterprise. People are still humans - rough around the edges, living through a war with the klingons - a race they hardly know as they haven’t had to deal with for the past hundred years (since the time of Enterprise - around the 2120s). This is two hundred years before DS9's controversial episode ‘In The Pale Moonlight’ - and it shows. It’s commonplace for these people to do things they never would have considered had the situation not been one of dire need and absolute life or death. It’s people having to get on with it, without the benefit of a well-known and respected Federation behind them. The idea that the klingons think they know what will happen to them, their culture, their way of life - because they’ve seen other races ‘fall’ to the ‘assimilation’ of the Federation - feels very real and very current. Every generation gets the Star Trek they deserve - and we have one about identity, about preserving your own culture at any cost, about standing up and saying ‘nope - you can’t whitewash/airbrush me - this is who I am, deal with it - we exist and you can’t deny us’. That makes the klingons on the side of the current anti-Trump and anti-status quo section of our world population - they are sticking it to The Man, and that makes me happy. Of course, that makes Starfleet either The Man or very misunderstood. And I'm ok with that - it’s about the possibility of sides, after all. Picard would have looked at it both ways - Sisko would have asked Dax and she would have said she’s lived both ways. Kirk would have said it’s a risk to jump either way - but ‘risk is our business’ and to carefully decide if a side should even be chosen.

Basically, this is pure Star Trek that no-one wanted but everyone cried out for. Something new, something a little daring, something to challenge. And if Star Trek isn’t challenging people, it’s not doing it right.

This is not your mother’s sci-fi. This is born of new ways of telling stories, of modern TV styles, and new ways of engaging (pardon the bad link) with its audience. The Expanse, Killjoys, Dark Matter - they’ve all pushed the envelope - and personally I don’t think Star Trek will ever be as shamelessly celebratory of diversity as Killjoys. But that’s not the only reason for Star Trek - it’s also about discovery. Though it’s hard to do that going back in time, it is easy to do if you’re thinking in terms of exploring the human condition and how it changes under stress, under the threat of death for many millions of souls - because of something you decide at that moment. What makes you, you? What makes you act in defence of or against someone else? That’s what they’re exploring here, and that’s what I’m looking forward to seeing more of.

Lorca may have scuttled his own ship (the Buron) and taken all hands but himself with her, but he did it because the needs of those many crew members outweighed the needs of the one. People are railing about how he has no soul, but didn’t he do exactly what Vasquez and Gorman did in Aliens when surrounded by xenomorphs and no ammo? Didn’t Picard do the same to a crew member lying on the floor asking for his help in Star Trek: First Contact? Ask Miles O’Brien if he’d leave someone alive to be taken prisoner by the Cardassians. And as for leaving Mudd behind - he had already proven himself to be a spy and someone only able to look out for himself. And he did brag about being a survivor. To be honest, I would have left him too.

On that subject, it’s obvious Tyler is a spy for the klingons (he escaped physical harm for how long? And his klingon captor was taken down much too easily for anyone to believe) but that’s why Lorca’s taken him along, isn’t it? He probably smelt it a mile off and is going to try to play him at his own game. After all, if he has a spy on board sending messages to the enemy, all you do is follow the message.

Time will tell if any of my musings are correct, but then that’s the fun. For the first time since DS9, there’s Star Trek on telly. I wasn’t in the UK for Enterprise, but compared to DS9 and Discovery it was weak. The characters were wasted and some of the stories were recycled from DS9 anyway (the Enterprise episode ‘Oasis’ and the DS9 episode 'Shadowplay', anyone?).

For me personally, I’ve seen more Star Trek in the first five episodes of Discovery than a whole season of Enterprise. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not hating on Enterprise and we needed it to keep the TV versions of Star Trek ticking along. But it was all starting to get a little stale, and this new idea of following a person and not a ship is what I think Star Trek needed to keep up to date - so far in the past that’s still yet to come.

Your mileage may vary - but for me, it’s yipping along with all the right signs. Long may it continue.

Going to the Pictures (IV)

I’ve been lagging behind in my movie-watching. Not the watching bit, but the keeping-it-straight-in-my-head by making-a-note-of-it bit. So here we go:

The Big Sick (Unlimited Screening, 24th July 2017)

Pretty funny in places, semi-autobiographical in others, this was an eye-opener that was a nice change from the usual Hollywood output. Kumail Nanjiani is excellent playing pretty much parts of his own real life here. Add in Holly Hunter and Zenobia Shroff and you have some very strong scenes that resonate with anyone trying to reconcile either parents and/or lifestyles. A Sunday afternoon kind of movie, but a good one.

Verdict: 7.5/10

Captain Underpants (27th July 2017)

I’ve read and re-read so many of these books, mostly to students of English as a foreign language. However, as I’m reading I’m enjoying the fact that the books are about kids, for kids, not what adults think kids should like. Friendship, escapades, getting away with sticking it to the man adult - it’s all in there. The movie was a faithful and definitely very fun adaptation that had me giggling for the entire 80 minutes. The end theme song, written by Weird Al Yankovic, did it justice too. All in all, a fab day out for all the family. And I’m not even sorry.

Verdict: 9/10

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2nd August 2017)

I was so excited for this - I love The Fifth Element and finding out that Luc Besson had been developing this for a while to exist in the same universe, I couldn’t wait to see it. A shame, then, that the best part of the movie was literally the first 15 minutes as they show you how Earth came to be part of the thousand planets of the title. Clive Owen and Rihanna were awesome - you can’t go wrong with those two. However, the two leads left me cold and I felt no chemistry between them or in fact them and anyone else. I just didn’t care about them at all, and felt the movie meandered all over the shop. I left thinking it had been a waste, apart from Clive Owen’s ee-vil general and of course Rihanna’s pleasure model.

Verdict: 6/10

Atomic Blonde (10th August 2017)

Fun, a little dirty, a little messy, and best of all, a little ambiguous. There seems to be no limit to what Charlize Theron can pull off, and I enjoyed pretty much all of this. The only let-down was finding out who the ‘villain’ actually was at the end - I was looking forward to a further double-cross and certain characters walking away with everything, but Hollywood again saw fit to keep things within certain boxes. Hmmf. For that, and the fact that there was not a single Debbie Harry / Blondie track in the whole film, I’ve given it a lower mark than the rest of the film deserves.

Verdict: 8.5/10

The Hitman’s Bodyguard (19th August 2017)

Hilarious and fast-moving - this film felt about 45 minutes long. Wall-to-wall solid scenes and one-liners, this made me laugh out loud several times. Salma Hayek is perfect and on-form - worth watching just for her, but then there’s Ryan Reynolds being Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L Jackson being Samuel L Jackson. I liked that it was shot 90% in Europe, and that when shit was going down, Ryan Reynold’s character took the proper, logical option, and not the Hollywood option that Samuel L Jackson’s character wanted. Ace. Oh - and watch out for the bloopers on the end credits.

Verdict: 9.5/10

The Dark Tower (24th August 2017)

A good film, with solid leads and people you rooted for. However, it all felt like there was no question about who would win in the end, and the winning of that was too easy by a long chalk. Strange, but there it is. And no disrespect to any writer, producer, or director - but again it was all about men having men times with more men doing men things. Why the original couldn’t have been written about a woman, her mother, and a young girl, I don’t know. Oh wait, yes I do.

Verdict: 8.5/10

American Made (31st August 2017)

Sheer fun and frolics for 80% of the film, until it starts to sink in that you know how it all has to end. Tom Cruise is very good as Tom Cruise based on a real-life story not about Tom Cruise, and everyone else in it is very convincing. Funny, moving - a cautionary tale, indeed.

Verdict: 8.5/10

The Limehouse Golem (7th September 2017)

A tale of a sequential killer in London; a tarnished detective moved in to be the department scapegoat when he hopefully fails to find the culprit, the backdrop of the shady side of showtunes and bawdy theatre of Victorian London - characters you don’t expect, twists you think you see coming and then realise you’ve been set up - a lot to appreciate here. An excellent movie, it was a just a shame that more people weren’t even aware it was out. You’d think names like Bill Nighy, Douglas Booth, Eddie Marsan and Olivia Cooke would make them advertise it better.

Verdict: 9/10

American Assassin (Unlimited Screening, 12th September 2017)

Wow. I will admit, I was lured into this with the promise of Taylor Kitsch, and he didn’t disappoint. However, the film as a whole most certainly did. It was the most TEAM AMERICA - FUCK YEAH! film since Team America. Moments of definite cheesiness and painful attempts to justify black ops in defence of ’Murica, we stuck it out only because Michael Keaton deserves better. Feel a little sorry for the little Teen Wolf / Maze Runner dude, Dylan O’Brien, but when you’re getting your feet on the ladder you can’t be too choosy about which rungs they are, I guess.

Verdict: 5/10

Kingsman 2: The Golden Circle (21st September 2017)

What can I say? Critics have given it bad reviews, but I don’t care for other people’s opinions before I’ve seen a movie for myself, so I went anyway. Like anything was going to stop me from seeing a Kingsman movie. Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed it - fun, well-paced, well-acted (and it looked like people were having fun filming it), and just as much hilarity as the first one. While I knew it was going to hard to beat my top two moments of the first one (the Freebird in the church scene, and people’s heads exploding to the tune of Last Night of the Proms), there were plenty of moments in this new one that had me either laughing out loud or chuckling loud enough to drown out other cinema-goers’ laughter. Note: Chilean Burt Reynolds (otherwise known as a face morph of Jeremy Renner and Burt Reynolds from Smokey and the Bandit) is actually Pedro Pascal. There; you're welcome. It’s safe to say there are moments of that film that will live with me the next 10 years, and every time I think of them I will giggle. What more can you ask of a film?

Verdict: 9.5/10

Young Frankenstein (Special Anniversary Screening, 27th September 2017)

A blast from the past - and still just as much fun. How can you go wrong with a Mel Brooks / Gene Wilder film? The jokes were all still there, the spirit of the piss-take was strong with this one, and a good time was had by all.

Verdict: 8.5/10

Blade Runner: Final Cut (1982) (Special Screening, 28th September 2017)

A reminder before we see the sequel next week, the fact that this was Ridley Scott’s own favourite version he put together a few years ago was a pleasant surprise. There are more versions of this film knocking about than the Bible, so being able to watch what Scott considers the best version was a relief. It still had it (but luckily, did not have the voice-over or 90% of the dream sequence), and the restoration of the night scenes, the overshots of the rainy city, and the Vangelis theme were just incredible. Worth watching just for the cleaned-up cinematography alone, this version made things more stream-lined and, thankfully, shorter. Although I still want to know how Edward James Olmos’ characters knew to make a unicorn out of a gum wrapper and leave it at Deckard’s door.

Verdict: 9.5/10

That’s it for now - all up to date for the time being. As always, there will be more to come.



We’ve often been told that labels, in the context of putting people in boxes, is bad. Mostly true. As in, when we then use those labels to profile or segregate people. But labels in general? What did they do wrong? Isn’t it more the people hearing those labels, and the reactions they have to them, that are the problem?

For example, I say “the employment contract you signed says ‘don’t do the thing’ and you did the thing; why would you not expect consequences?” at work and I’m called ‘harsh’, ‘rude’, ‘not how the department should react’. I’m not at all bothered by what people think of me; what I’m more angered by is the fact that this person will get away with their actions because they put on some false anger and do the Storming Off In Indignation routine. And now it’s put down to ‘you handled it wrong’. When I ask how, I’m told ‘you should have been more tactful’. No, I say calmly, the person should not have tried to do the opposite of what he agreed to when he signed the contract. End of: level 1 disciplinary offence, case closed, move on. I’m told ‘it doesn’t work like that’, and now he’s ‘upset’.


Like I give an unidentified flying fuck how he feels; he broke a contract. Deal with him, get this done, move onto the next problem. This is why our department spends all our time in lengthy, drawn-out debates that take weeks to settle. That particular problem could have been solved in 10 minutes in a private meeting between Arsehole, his manager, and someone from our department. But no. Apparently ‘our way’ is dragging everything out.

Which brings me back to labels.

Arsing about on Tinternet this week has caused me, not for the first time, to stumble over the Myers Briggs personality test (or MBTI). In a rare case of ‘is it actually me and not everyone else after all?’, I took the test.

Basically it sorts everyone into 16 personality types (or labels). This in turn gives you insight into what inner forces drive you to act and speak as you do. I’ve done a few simple traits tests and associated tests before (including MENSA), but this one blew me away in terms of how accurate it was.

My label was INTJ. Or, in terms we can all understand, someone who is introverted, intuitive, thinks and judges. (Not in a judgey way, but in a weighing-up way.)

I’ve read a few different sources on what an INTJ is supposed to be like, and to be honest it’s scarily accurate. It also explains why there is so much frustration at work and on social platforms, and especially in areas that matter like who’s running a country and why nothing’s been done about it. For work purposes, it exposes a massive issue that has always been bubbling under the surface for me, but I never knew it was A Thing and therefore needed to be sorted. Now it’s been waved in my face, in apparently true INTJ style, I can work out what to do about it and then just do it.

It also explains why I get so pissed off when colleagues say things like ‘you shouldn’t say that out loud’ or ‘you need to be more professional’. I AM THE MOST PROFESSIONAL PERSON IN MY DEPARTMENT, UNCLEFUCKER. When was the last time I checked my phone during work hours? When was the last time I showed any emotion at all to someone asking stupid questions? When was the last time I held a grudge against someone because of their behaviour or general stupidity? When was the last time I gossiped? When was the last time I had anything on my web browser that wasn’t work-related? When was the last time I wore something inappropriate? When was the last time I was late, or fucked off early, or didn’t deliver my objectives, goals, or projects? When was the last time I didn’t do a handover, or communicate my research findings, or prepare for the latest oncoming storm?

I see these things going on around me all the time, and it staggers me. However, I keep a lid on it - because apparently calling people out on their lack of professionalism is frowned on - yeah, let the irony of that sink in for a moment. I channel my inner Spock - or rather, my inner T’Pol, seeing as she was completely alien and trapped on a ship full of either idiots, incompetents, or people of less insight and ability to think things through, or of much less life experience. I get shit done and I tune out everything that annoys me. And for this I’m called ‘unprofessional’ because THE ONE TIME I don’t manage to do this and say ‘FFS’ under my breath, my colleague hears it and assumes I’m thinking of resigning.

Yes, resigning. For some reason, she believes I am unhappy in my job. She believes that after one bad day you want to leave. I don’t understand - I genuinely don’t. Whether you enjoy the job or not, you still get paid to do that fucking job, and moaning about how much you don’t like it isn’t helping. Do the job or don’t - but don’t pretend that you didn’t know it was going to be like this when you accepted the offer of employment. I knew exactly what I was getting into when I joined the company, and I still know exactly what the place is, perhaps more so than others. The idea that I would want to leave because of one bad hour (not even an afternoon or day) is to me extremely immature. It also tells me that for some reason, she thinks I’m not enjoying my job. I asked her outright: Does my face tell people I hate them or something? Do I seriously have a Resting Fuck Off Face? She said that my face changes when I speak to people, from FUCK OFF into OH HI HOW CAN I MAKE YOUR LIFE BETTER?, but she worried what others thought when they saw my concentrating face.


Like I give a shit what someone thinks of an expression on my face WHEN I’M BUSY WORKING. What in the actual fuck? What is this, the Face Police? Can’t they all just get on with their work and stop gazing round the room and FINDING things to worry about? I’m pretty sure that’s not in their job description and - you know what I'm going to say next, right? It’s not PROFESSIONAL.

But anyway. Being an INTJ is apparently not an easy life, but now I’ve read things about how non-INTJs react to INTJs basically INTJing all over their workplace, I can see more of her side than before. The problem is the very basis of being INTJ is not really caring about people’s opinions toward you because it’s not quantifiable evidence that anything is ‘wrong’, and anyway, what’s ‘wrong’ with ‘wrong’? How many people in history have been ‘wrong’ at the time, but then later proven right? And not just in terms of facts (Galileo for example) but attitudes themselves (Star Trek, David Bowie, etc.).

It’s tiring being an INTJ, I’m not going to lie. It’s exhausting tuning out all the inane shit that people ‘small talk’ about, exhausting having to adhere to long drawn-out processes when you can see the logical ending and just want to skip to it. It’s tough to keep my mouth shut when I just want to say ‘can you not?’ to people trying to stop me from working through trying to be sociable or generally distracting. I don’t get nearly enough recognition for the number of times I stop myself from saying, calmly and quietly, ‘fuck off’.

I think that’s this week’s rant mostly out of my system. I’m sure there’ll be more, but now I know the root cause, I can make adjustments. And they won’t include spades or plastic sheeting.